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Sally Too

A knock backwards for Agroforestry?

No substitute for Virgin Forest

At first glance the headline suggests preserving forests...yay. But then the suggestion is that remaining land should be more intensively farmed....

"Primary forests are truly unique and have exceptional value for biodiversity," said study co-leader Luke Gibson from the National University of Singapore.

"So if you can minimise the destruction of primary forests, then that might be the best strategy for tropical biodiversity.

"And if you have to use agricultural intensification of areas that are already used for agricultural production instead of focusing more on other forms of agriculture that attempt to maintain some levels of biodiversity, such as agrofrestry, that strategy might be more effective for maintaining the highest levels of biodiversity overall,"

Not sure this is all good? Comments?

A look at the story on the BBC would only suggest to me more research is required. Firstly, I'm not sure if they have assumed agroforestry is less productive than intensive agriculture for example, I thought one of the ideals behind it was that it was actually more productive? Also, do they take into account the higher inputs required for intensive agriculture, etc, etc?

I think it depends on if you believe that virgin habitats will remain untouched. I could see an argument for this approach if we could achieve it and the people of that country could use the land available to feed themselves but worldwide we (as a species) have a pretty shocking track record on that score. I don't know enough about the situation in tropical countries but I fear that pressure on land will mean that former wild areas will always be exploited by large companies (national but particularly international).

As for "productivity" and "efficiency" it depend on which inputs and outputs (including pollution, greenhouse gasses etc) you measure.

Interesting articles from The Campaign for Real Farming esp. from Chris Smaje, comparing industrial and agroecological farming and their productivity per unit of greenhouse gas produced, here. Also Land Use Options For Sustainable Farming from his website here.
Sally Too

Good point cassy, the 2 land areas are disconnected in the sense that they are doubtlessly owned by different people. The cessation of managing agricultural land with diversity in mind will NOT in sure that virgin forests are untouched!

And I sure won't reduce my efforts to create habitats on my land, because I'm not convinced that by doing so I will be saving virgin forest!

Perhaps it is to be used as an excuse for NOT promoting biodiversity to farmers in the future?
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